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Book recounts New York family's Beatles magical mystery tour

The Hester family in front of George Harrison's Friar Park estate.
Jere Hester
"Raising a Beatle Baby" by Jere Hester
Jere Hester
    Some families form a special bond through a common interest. whether it's over a meal, a sport or a hobby. In the case of Brooklyn, New York-based Jere Hester and his family, their bond is a love for all things related to the Beatles. After all, it was the music of the Fab Four that connected Hester with his then-girlfriend Teresa, who later became his wife. And when they gave birth to their only child, Ella, the couple introduced to her to the Beatles' music and she got hooked - it led her on the path of towards being an aspiring musician.

How the Liverpool legends touched the lives of Hester and his family forms the basis of his recently-published book, "Raising a Beatle Baby." Sort of both a personal memoir and a travelogue, the book documents such various things as Hester's love for the music going back to his youth; the trip that he, Teresa and Ella (who was then 8) took in London and Liverpool in 2005 to visit several Beatles-related sites, including Ringo Starr's former house; and Ella's brush with fame when she met Paul McCartney at a New York book signing. Die-hard fans of the Fab Four will immediately recognize a few musical references that Hester - whose knowledge of the band's history is extensive - sprinkled into the text.

A former city editor at the New York Daily News, Hester tells that he thought about writing a book that explored the intersection between pop culture and family. "We certainly had a little beyond the fan experiences not only in terms of our travels - dragging our daughter to Liverpool, Hamburg (where the band spent their formative years), and London in the Beatles footsteps - but some of the incredible unexpected experiences we've had along the way. There were some notable moments in the book but I think the fun part is the ordinariness of it all - of a family loving music and having something they can share."

For Hester, the Beatles had always been around long in his young life even though he was only four when the group broke up in 1970. "They were basically here, there and everywhere for me kind of from the beginning," he says. "I kind of remember the Muppets singing "Yellow Submarine" on a very early "Sesame Street." The music was always there on the radio, in the jukeboxes, and certainly the album collections of older cousins and friends."

When Hester and his wife got married, they spent their honeymoon in Liverpool in 1990, which his was his first time overseas and the couple's initiation into touring the Beatles sites. They would reprise that visit to the U.K. 15 years later with Ella., who had already been a fan. "I think there's something about this music that connects not only with people of every age but it really connects with people when they are young," says Hester. "It was the music that we played in the house, it was the music that we sang and we played on instruments.

The Hester family in front of George Harrison's Friar Park estate.
Jere Hester

Through a special tour group, the Hester family visited such places as Ringo Starr's old living room; and the Barnston Women's Institute where the group performed in their famous suits for the first time. Perhaps the most poignant attraction was George Harrison's Friar Park estate - a moment that brought Hester's wife Teresa to tears. "People talk about favorite Beatles," Hester says, "but I think a lot of us feel a special kinship to George and his story. When we went back in 2005 and we were going to get a chance to at least see the outside of the estate, it really was a very emotional thing for all of us as well as for Teresa. This was the real culmination of what brought us on this trip. Even if we didn't get inside, it was an incredible place to be. You kind of felt you were a part of his life in a very small way."


Hester says that some of the noteworthy moments during the travels were the things that one didn't expect to happen. "Getting to sit in Ringo's old living room and having a cup of tea with the lady who lives there and talking about everything but the Beatles. We talked about her children, we talked about her cataracts, and meanwhile there are other tour groups outside pounding on the door wanting to get in. It's those small moments that meant a lot to us."

Ella Hester with Margaret Grose in Ringo Starr's boyhood home.
Jere Hester

Since those trips abroad, Ella has pursued a path into music as a teenage bassist and singer whose interests are progressive rock bands like Yes and King Crimson. "But ultimately when a Beatles song comes on the radio and we're all there," says her father, "we all just launch into it and sometimes even in harmony. On some level, I think she appreciates that this was the start of her musical education."

Meanwhile, this author and Beatles fan hopes this book will make people reflect on what the Beatles meant in their lives. "One of the duties of a fan is to not only pass along the music." Hester says, "but the stories, and I hope that people read this and they smile and they turn on their favorite record and maybe they're inspired - not necessarily take a trip, but to play and share music with their loved ones."